The Volkswagen group has not yet taken a decision on the future of CEO Herbert Diess, but among the hypotheses – after the meetings of the mediation committee last week and, on Tuesday, of the executive committee – that of a sort of commissioner is making its way . Or rather, the reduction of powers. The proposal would be to co-opt Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of the Volkswagen brand, on the board of management, who would also assume responsibility for Skoda and Seat. In short, a downsizing for Diess, which is also asked for a change of style in relations with employees (and perhaps even to give up the plan of 30 thousand layoffs, to cut costs and increase productivity, which has been discussed in recent weeks. ).
The mediation committee, an internal body of the supervisory board dedicated to resolving disputes and composed of Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of the supervisory board and representative of the Piëch and Porsche families, heirs of the founder who control Volkswagen; Jörg Hofmann, head of the IG Metall trade union; Stephan Weil, prime minister of Lower Saxony (the land owns 20% of the capital and has the power of veto); and Daniela Cavallo, president of the works council. The union would withdraw its request to exonerate Diess, who has a contract until 2025 renewed in July, only if his reach were drastically reduced.
Diess and the German carmaker’s trade union representatives have clashed in recent weeks over management methods and electrification strategy. Among the union’s accusations, that of not having been able to cope with the semiconductor crisis, which cost heavy cuts in production, 800 thousand cars in the third quarter alone. “Others have been able to do much better,” accused Daniela Cavallo.
Last year, again due to disagreements on cost cuts and electrification strategy with the then number one of the works council, Bernd Osterloh, Diess was forced to give up driving the Volkswagen brand, passing the baton to Brandstätter himself. , who by joining the group’s management board would work alongside the CEOs of Audi, Markus Duesmann, and Porsche, Oliver Blume.
The renewed uncertainty about the leadership and strategy of the largest European car manufacturer weighed on the performance on the stock market in the last six months. The group’s ordinary shares (today at 172 euros) have lost 30% from the highs of April, against a + 11% of BMW and Stellantis, a + 55% of Ford and an 83% jump of Tesla. The latter is the real obsession of Diess, who in a recent confrontation with the workers and the current head of the works council, Daniela Cavallo, brought as an example precisely the fact that in the new Tesla factory in Germany it will take 10 hours to complete a car, while today in Zwickau, the Volkswagen site for electric cars, the hours needed are 30 and they tend to become 20. Too many. Hence the decision to open a new factory in Wolfsburg dedicated to the Trinity project for the second generation electric car (from 2026) rather than renovating the existing one.